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Why are the destinations on the “Travel Warning” list of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs exhibiting at IFTM?

Yemen, Chad, Mauritania and Palestine…


Strongly advised against visiting by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, some destinations still chose to exhibit at the IFTM Top-Résa trade fair. An attempt for them to stay in the minds of travelers and hope to be reassuring on the security of their tourist zones.



The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against going to Yemen - Source MAE
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against going to Yemen - Source MAE
Their countries are marked in red on the map of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Or at least strongly advised against visiting since a few months.

Yemen, Chad, or even Mauritania have, despite that, decided to exhibit during the trade fair of IFTM Top Résa.

An initiative that was welcomed by Thomas Desplanques, director of the fair. “Look at Egypt for example. If it had stopped participating, the market may have forgotten about it?”

Libya and Sierra Leone had also reserved their booths, but were forced to cancel at the last minute.

However, Yemen, even though it is in the middle of a conflict, decided to not let go of an event that it has been attending since 1998.

“Before the Arab Spring, we welcomed 96,000 French tourists” explains Sadek Alsaar, culture and tourism advisor at the Embassy. “But today, we advise them to wait for a return to tranquility or to visit the Socotra Island, a UNESCO world heritage site.”

Yet he keeps participating in the fair to confront his powerful neighbors - notably Oman - that are progressing rapidly on the French market.

“We don’t want Yemen’s name to disappear from the minds of people and we certainly don’t want the competition to take our spot.”

Point Afrique refuses to let go of its historic lands

Another country in conflict: Palestine.

Attending the fair for the last 4 years, it was forced to reduce its budgets and booth size to 12 m2.

But despite its small size, it was not invisible to visitors.

“There is always a strong desire from French visitors to discover our country” exclaims Jomana Al Yahya, manager of economic affairs in Palestine’s mission to France.

She assures that in the country, life goes on as best as it can and that tourist sites have not been affected by the last war in Gaza.

“Of course, it is not a family vacation spot to go lounge in the sun. We target curious travelers, who love adventure and have a thirst for risk.”

This thirst for adventure is also necessary to visit Chad. Attending the fair for the 3rd year, the country is trying to attract tour operators, without much success.

Only the brave Point d’Afrique, and a few DMCs, continue going.

A trip in the Ennedi desert is even scheduled for next February.

However, the geographic situation in the country invites tourists to be extremely careful.

Landlocked between Sudan, Niger, Libya, the Central African Republic and Cameroon, it is directly suffering the consequences of the war of its neighbors in Sahel. Yet insists on trying to convince the international community that its territory is safe.

Same battle in Mauritania

“Let us remind you that there has never been issues with tourists. The Chad is a peaceful country, without religious problems, Aqmi was never there.

And we are containing our borders perfectly. There are no risks”
insists Pari Koura, representative of the TO in France.

Same battle in Mauritania, that has been exhibiting at the fair since 2005. Khadijetou Mint Doua, Director of the National Tourism Office, promises that today, its borders are safe and sealed.

To reboost the industry, the government has agreed with Point Afrique on the charter of a flight from October 30th to March 9th, for an amount of 280,000 euros.

The TO strongly refuses to let go of its historical destinations, confirms Kévin Girard, Chief Operations Officer at Point Afrique.

“We came back because we were given the necessary guarantees pertaining to our clients’ safety. We do not want to let go of the Sahel and we will fight until the end make these unique regions open to discovery.”

Written by Laury-Anne CHOLEZ translated by Joséphine Foucher the 30/09/2014
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